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Granate, have you heard Karajan's live Salzburg Ring? Not all done in one year but in instalments between 1968 and 1970. You'll find the relevant recordings on Opera Depot. Karajan is much better live than in the studio so it's worth a listen.
My budget went to Boulez 76 and some spare Wagner operas. I don't how if I will ever hear the Karajan Live ring, and that's why I requested Ragnar to do a compared listen between the Live ring he purchased and the Karajan Studio Ring.

Not that I am unsatisfied with the Studio Karajan. The Eloquence box is very close to be my next Wagner purchase (I already own the Böhm ring and Boulez in digital.

My next interests in Wagner would be Bayreuth 71 and 77, but that should be for another time.
 

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Interested to see how Karajan live compares with studio performances. His live performance was often very different
Just listening to my first Götterdämmerung, I think I can give enough statements about Stereo rings in terms of sound and performance. In the market, only five studio rings exist, plus live compilations such as Böhm and the future Zweden ring. The rest are almost exclusively Live rings in one take and with audience, as these ones suppose less of an expense for record companies.

Aren't studio, polished recordings of the Ring scarce enough to be ignored in favour of several live recordings? Many classical music lovers praise the pioneering Solti-Culshaw ring, but that doesn't mean they are really superior to live recordings, or viceversa. For studio rings, I'm way more in favour of Karajan's polished style, combined with the dramatic tempos, despite sound, from Karl Böhm, or even with Barenboim's edgy conducting despite the uneven cast.

For me there are many ways of handling the Ring and the more different versions I assemble the more satisfied I am. Why should I ask for a live Karajan ring? What else is he going to offer me that is not sold by Böhm, Boulez, or Thielemann (what a great promise)? Karajan's Ring polish is rare enough for me to be interested in his live conducting merits. But of course, that happens because I buy into his engineering handling. Here, in Lohengrin and Tristan all the way, mostly in Meistersinger and a bit in Holländer.

I don't go to his live 76 Lohengrin just because the live conducting or sound doesn't bother me. I go because it's better casted than any recording I can think of in stereo (ok, slightly better than Kempe). But if there were other recordings that had satisfied me more, probably I wouldn't have tried that Live Lohengrin. I did because most of the competitors were disappointing for x or y singer. In the world of stereo Rings it's different. There are enough live competitors to fulfil my needs.

I do reccomend live recordings from Karajan to the many, many, maybe millions and millions and millions of classical music lovers who in their right disapprove the sound engineering that Karajan made out of his +400 studio orchestral and opera accounts.

With all this considered, thank you for the question. I'm actually interested in what other users think of a compared listen between the two Karajan rings, because my bet is that the performances would be very similar to my ears, with the sound battle won by the studio recordings. I prefer to search for alternatives like Boulez or Stein in Bayreuth, all with the exhaustive help of DA.
 

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But how many times do I need to tell that I don't like Astrid Varnay?! This could ruin half of the 50s rings for me.
You're not alone. The constant sliding into pitches (and sometimes not quite making it) drives me nuts. Interestingly, her later recordings are better in this regard. Her 1962 Ortrud is actually sung relatively cleanly, even if the voice sounds a little older.

5. Thielemann BFO 2008: The revelation of the Siegfrieds, as well as his Rheingold. The sound ambience is excellent and squashes Barenboim. While Mime, Siegfried and the Wanderer are very good (Siegel, Gould and Dohmen), Brünnhilde (Watson) and Fafner (König) are fine. Pretty enjoyable recording for the 21st century.
I think that you'll want to avoid Thielemann's Vienna remake on DG.
 

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I think that you'll want to avoid Thielemann's Vienna remake on DG.



I made a snippet sound comparison between the two cycles before the challenge. Bayreuth sounded 10 times louder and cleaner.

Maybe the problem is a terrible tape transfering from Unitel to DG. How much do we bet that a second reissue of the Vienna Ring fixes all the sound problems?
 

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Maybe the problem is a terrible tape transfering from Unitel to DG. How much do we bet that a second reissue of the Vienna Ring fixes all the sound problems?
I don't think that the sonics are the problem. The cast contains a number of the same singers as at Bayreuth in 2008, but they're older and don't sound as good. And where the cast is changed, the Vienna performances have inferior singing.
 

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Just listening to end of Act 1 on Bohm recording. Windgassen sounds a bit pallid but Wohlfahrt unquestionably the greatest recorded Mime in this awful part.
I don't think it's awful, probably unpleasant if we do not count the action (in the dramedy of this whole episode, this is more comedy than drama). My first listen without libretto was also terrible in this part and the whole opera. What did you think of Adam's Wanderer?
 

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I don't think it's awful, probably unpleasant if we do not count the action (in the dramedy of this whole episode, this is more comedy than drama). My first listen without libretto was also terrible in this part and the whole opera. What did you think of Adam's Wanderer?
Well sung. Bohm's conducting penny plain. The problem with Siegfried is there is no relief from the male voices during the first two Act apart from the Woodbird. Siegfried is a bawler (he has to be) and Mime grotesque. Not pleasant listening.
 

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Finishing up a first listen to the new recording conducted by van Zweden:

Eye Font Line Circle Poster


I'm mostly impressed. The main deficit, to my ears, is van Zweden's conducting, which seems lacking in impact when it's needed. The orchestra plays well, though, and the sonics are quite good.

And I am pleased to report that some of the best singing on this set is that of Simon O'Neill in the title role. While it is not the most attractive sound, and he's interpretively on the bland side, his singing is eminently musical and accurate, which cannot be said of virtually any Siegfried of the past couple of decades. His top is solid, and he makes it to the end of the opera unscathed. I'm of two minds about Goerne. He sings the Wanderer very, very well, but he makes a very dark sound, so that it's a serious Wanderer, rather monochromatic, without the sort of variety that Hotter brought to the part. Cangelosi is an excellent Mime, really singing the part - it's a good thing that O'Neill is strong, because otherwise it would be yet another case of Siegfried being outsung by Mime.

I haven't quite made up my mind about Heidi Melton's Brunnhilde. It's a good voice, but on first hearing, I don't hear much beyond that. And she seems to tire audibly at the end of the opera.
 

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Wagner Challenge update - Favourite MONO Siegfried - I

1st



Wagner
SIEGFRIED WWV 86C Live recording
Bernd Aldenhoff
Paul Kuën
Hans Hotter
Gustav Neidlinger
Josef Greindl
Maria von Ilosvay
Ilse Hollweg
Astrid Varnay

Orchester der Bayreuther Festspiele
Hans Knappertsbusch
Walhall (1957/2008 Remastered Edition)


2nd



Wagner
SIEGFRIED WWV 86C Live recording
Wolfgang Windgassen
Paul Kuën
Hans Hotter
Gustav Neidlinger
Josef Greindl
Maria von Ilosvay
Rita Streich
Martha Mödl

Orchester der Bayreuther Festspiele
Joseph Keilberth
Membran (1953/2017 Reissue Edition)


3rd



Wagner
SIEGFRIED WWV 86C Live recording
Wolfgang Windgassen
Gerhard Stolze
Hans Hotter
Frans Andersson
Josef Greindl
Maria von Ilosvay
Dorothea Siebert
Astrid Varnay

Orchester der Bayreuther Festspiele
Hans Knappertsbusch
Walhall (1958/2009 Remastered Edition)


4th



Wagner
SIEGFRIED WWV 86C Live recording
Wolfgang Windgassen
Paul Kuën
Hans Hotter
Gustav Neidlinger
Josef Greindl
Maria von Ilosvay
Rita Streich
Astrid Varnay

Orchester der Bayreuther Festspiele
Clemens Krauss
Pristine Classical / Opera d'Oro (1953, Remastered Edition)


5th



Wagner
SIEGFRIED WWV 86C Live recording
Hans Hopf
Herold Kraus
Hermann Uhde
Otakar Kraus
Peter Roth-Ehrang
Marga Höffgen
Dorothea Siebert
Birgit Nilsson

Orchester der Bayreuther Festspiele
Rudolf Kempe
Myto (1960/2011 Remastered Edition)
 

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Wagner Challenge update - Favourite MONO Siegfried - II

6th



Wagner
SIEGFRIED WWV 86C Live recording
Ludwig Suthaus
Julius Patzak
Ferdinand Frantz
Alois Pernerstorfer
Josef Greindl
Margarete Klose
Rita Streich
Martha Mödl

Orchestra Sinfonica della Radio Italiana
Wilhelm Furtwängler
Pristine / Warner Classics (1953, Remastered Edition)


Top 7-14
07: Furtwängler Scala 50
08: Knappertsbusch BFO 56
09: Kempe BFO 61
10: Moralt WSO 49
11: Kempe ROH CV 57
12: Kempe BFO 62
13: Keilberth BFO 52
14: Bodanzky Met 37

[HR][/HR]
No extraordinary performance has been found here. Many are really similar to each other and the details have been crucial for the position. Anyway I didn't know what to expect from my least favourite opera from the Ring, but everyone is quite imperfect. The negative surprise has been the Kempe Siegfried from Covent Garden after two excellent reviews. It hasn't avoided the feelings after the Knappertsbusch rings and the sound pulls the recording down to the bottom 4. His Bayreuth Siegfrieds in 1961 and 1962 have not been lucky either no matter how good or bad is the sound in each one. The casts are not consistent. Only the premiere in Bayreuth 1960 offers an interesting product with sound.

Wilhelm Furtwängler continues the slow downfall with two Siegfrieds with good sound but just fine casting, or a really good cast in ok sound despite the immersive conducting. It just cannot compete with the effectiveness of the Bayreuth recordings. The complete Top 5 is from Bayreuth although the terrible news are how much I'm ignoring these Rings when it comes to shortlisting one for purchase. The 1953 Bayreuth ones could only compete with Böhm for casting. Furtwängler is tempting because he creates a universe that no one has emulated. Knappertsbusch doesn't bring anything special that I can remember, just effectiveness in slow motion. The marks are not really positive for a competition with the Stereo Rings like Karajan or Janowski.

That Scala Siegfried was the closest to the top. The singing is great and Max Lorenz is an enrapturing Siegfried. There is still audience noise, good dynamics and cleanness in the orchestra. It's the whole product, even with Flagstad, that almost reaches a good mark. It needs pushing further.

It's worth mentioning the struggle of Wolfgang Windgassen in every Forging song in this challenge. He improved over the time, but all of the first were disastrous (1953-1956) or just erratic (1957, 1958).

This leads to a top 6 of really good recordings of Siegfried but no real winner. No one meets the criteria for an "excellent" mark
.

[HR][/HR]
6th: Wilhelm Furtwängler, Radio Italiana 1953

The mudiness of the voices is still an issue no matter how clean the orchestra is this time. The instruments are clear, and the hammer, perfect. The pace is really nice and improves in dynamics (not SQ) the Scala recording. The only problem is that it also imposes a calm ambience like in studio, but this time it feels without passion... The Janowski Siegfried shares this issue. In the cast, I like the humanized Mime by Julius Patzak. And Greindl becomes the first Fafner that I notice in this episode. Intimidating. Suthaus in comparison to Patzak is bassier, and it matters for me. Frantz is a nice Wanderer and Mödl is really accurate for this Brünnhilde. Overall the cast is balanced and becomes a safe choice that focuses my attention on the conductor.

The miking and the pace between Scene 2 and 3 of Act I is troubling. It doesn't work out well and one section blasts the other, unlike the Scala performance onstage where the intensity is excellent in Mime's panic attack.


5th: Rudolf Kempe, Bayreuther Festspiele 1960

Not many comments but I'm really impressed for how this worked out. Mime, Wanderer and Siegfried (Stolze/Uhl/Hopf) are the nice surprise in Act I. Hopf would never have a better voice for a Siegfried in the following years. He hits the hammer loudly. Nilsson is also fresh. Every singer, even the sound quality is boosting the results of this premiere.

4th: Clemens Krauss, Bayreuther Festspiele 1953

The only forging song available from Windgassen's Siegfried debut is the second round in August under Clemens Krauss. If this one was the "good" take I cannot imagine the "worse" Keilberth. Windgassen slows down a lot the phrasing and the pace becomes a mess. It's almost hilarious. This is not the best Siegfried sung by Windgassen, but this one is vocally excellent. The orchestra proves sharper than the conductor. In Act II, Neildinger is the best Alberich possible. Hotter is excellent as always. Erda and the Waldbogel are good, still secondary and could be improved.Varnay is in a perfect shape for the role, youthful and powerful, but with the style that divides the fandom.

3rd: Hans Knappertsbusch, Bayreuther Festspiele 1958

I think that this recording is equal in quality to the 1957, with better sound (more presence for strings and coughs). Windgassen (58 Siegfried) and Aldenhoff (57 Siegfried) are not very far from each other but Aldenhoff doesn't mess up in the forging song. Windgassen here is arrithmic but more controlled, giving charm but also flaws to this recording. This time his voice has changed too, more adult-like. It loses slightly in comparison. In the cast of this era, the musical Gerhard Stolze beats Kuën in Mime, and Peterson is really close to Neidlinger's quality in Alberich without being iconic. This Fafner by Greindl is better recorded, cleaner. Hotter performs really well for the two duets. Of this excellent cast, only Varnay underperforms significantly in comparison with the previous year. She also has pacing issues in the waking scene. The conducting is slow but accurate for the comedy and drama scenes. Swift.

2nd: Joseph Keilberth, Bayreuther Festspiele 1953

Coming from the complete Krauss 53, the performances improve in Acts II and III. Paul Kuën, Gustav Neidlinger and Rita Streich (Mime/Alberich/Waldwogel) are the highlights. Windgassen, of course on debut like I told in the Krauss review. Act III features a great Hotter in the role of Wanderer and a superb, incredible Martha Mödl playing Brünnhilde. The waking scene is the eleventh wonder. The conducting is good, and the sound sharp.

1st: Hans Knappertsbusch, Bayreuther Festspiele 1957

The better Siegfried of this episode thanks to the cast and the sound. The pace is faster than usual in Knappertsbusch although it is not iconic, like it wasn't him… It's just slower and with ok dynamics, never dull. The best news are the Nibelungs Kuën and Neidlinger and an enrapturing Erda (Maria von Ilosvay). The protagonists are Bernd Aldenhoff and Astrid Varnay. In Act I, Aldenhoff proves to be as worthy as Windgassen and can sing the forging song flawlessly. That is crucial. In Act II he struggles a bit and I have to remember his great rival. And in this recording, Varnay improves all her 2nd Brünnhildes with control on her volume and notes, softer without being bassier. The good sound is also important for this first position but not significantly over many recordings in this top.
 
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